Recently there was a big discussion on Facebook about PhilHealth’s intention of increasing the amount being paid by OFWs on their insurance by a whooping 100%. To give non-OFWs a clear picture:
Filipinos who wish to or are working abroad are required to procure an Oversea Employment Certificate (OEC) prior to leaving the Philippines. This document is being checked by the Philippine Oversea Employment Agency (POEA) personnel at the airport before checking-in at the pre-departure area. In “theory”, failure to present these papers obliges OFWs to pay the necessary travel tax, plus penalties and more papers to fill up. But in “practice”, staff will tell you to go to the nearest POEA office to obtain your OEC! In other words, and I witness this first hand in NAIA, you can’t leave the country without it, period!
Now, prior to issuance of OEC (here’s where the “arm twisting begins”), they’ll require you to be a member (for non-members) of PAG-IBIG and you need to pay PhilHealth insurance with an elapse time of 1 or 2 years (which ever you prefer). But based on the comments I’ve read on that site, PhilHealth services is only good when they’re collecting premium charges but almost non-existing when it comes to disbursing remittances of OFW medical expenses.
Personally, I just took it in stride and pay all these “requirements”. But what I can’t swallow was this comment from a PhilHealth representative:
“Naiintindihan po namin na iba iba ang estado ng ating mga kababayang OFWs abroad, kagaya po ng naka post lumalabas po na mas malaki ang binabayad para sa benepisyo keysa sa nasisingil o nakokolekta na premium. Tulad din po ng OFW mayroon din tayong mas mahihirap pang kababayan, sila po ay sakop ng aming sponsored program, kung saan ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan na ito ay walang binabayarang contibution ngunit nakakatanggap ng benepisyo. Dahil nga po ang PhilHealth ay social health insurance na hango sa salitang social solidarity na kung saan binabayaran ng may pera ang kalusugan ng mga walang pangtustos at binabayaran ng mga malulusog ang pangkalusugan ng mga sakitin.”
(We understand the different situation of OFWs abroad, like what was posted about the charges for the benefits are bigger than the remitted premiums. Like some OFWs with financial difficulties, we also have citizens who are more impoverished and do not pay any contribution but still receives medical benefits from us. Because PhilHealth is a social health insurance where the concept was taken from “social solidarity” where those who have the means, pays for the medical expenses of those who can’t afford.)
Wait! Stop! Rewind! Will somebody please explain this to me? I have no illusion of grandeur and knew the Philippines is a welfare state. But isn’t the money apportioned for the “indigents” supposed to come from collected revenues called TAXES. Why do they single out OFWs to shoulder the “fringe benefit” of people who are not OFWs, not to mention “free-loaders”, tax evaders and those who doesn’t pay taxes at all? What we pay to PhilHealth is NOT TAX! If they’re forcing this “health insurance” down our throat, it’s just right that only OFWs and their families benefits from it. Our funds should be a separate entity or better yet, a separate health insurance for OFWs and not PhilHealth!
No wonder PhilHealth is short in funding. Previous administration were distributing PhilHealth cards right and left to boost their malodorous image. They should be ashamed for letting those politicians used our hard-earned money in their electioneering.